France to close schools, ban domestic travel as virus surges

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced a three-week nationwide school closure and a month-long domestic travel ban, as the rapid spread of the virus ramped up pressure on hospitals.

In a televised address to the nation, Macron said efforts are needed as “the epidemic is accelerating.”

“We’re going to close nursery, elementary and high schools for three weeks,” he said, adding that a nationwide 7 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew will be kept in place.

“If we stay united in the coming weeks ... then we will see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Macron said restrictions already applying in the Paris region and others parts of north and eastern France will be extended to the whole country, for at least one month. Under these restrictions, people are allowed to go outside for leisure, but within a 10-kilometer (6 miles) radius from their homes — and without gathering. Also most non-essential shops are closed down.

The move is a departure from the government’s policy in recent months, which has focused on regionalized restrictions. School closures in particular had been seen as a very last resort.

A debate is scheduled in parliament Thursday that will address the virus situation and the new measures.

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